Two Different Prisoners

By Emily Faerber

The sound seemed to resonate through the air as both men stood motionless, then slowly Micah reached up and touched his stinging red cheek, his shocked eyes searching Malachi's face.

"How could you?" Malachi asked quietly. "I could have rescued you from the Abyss, but I can't rescue you from this!" His arm swung again, this time catching Micah on the other side of his face with the back of his hand, sending Micah sprawling to the ground. Micah didn't move as Malachi glared down at him. "Why did you do it? Answer me!"

"Evan . . ." Micah couldn't keep his voice steady, and his head was turned shamefully away. "I couldn't . . . I couldn't . . ."

"I could have saved you!"

"I'm sorry, Evan." Micah looked up, teardrops sparkling in his eyes. "I didn't want Rai to go . . ."

"So you decided to die to protect him? You decided that you would rather cease to exist than let Rai go to the Abyss? How could you be so selfish?"

"Evan!"

Pushing himself up, Micah stared at Malachi with an anguished expression as tears streamed down his cheeks.

"Micah, in fifteen years my feelings for you haven't changed, and now I discover that you would rather die fighting against me than let Rai spend time in the Abyss? I discover that you're in love with someone else?"

"Evan, stop! I wanted to see you, but I couldn't. I wasn't allowed to, because I still love you! Every moment I stand here with you, I dream about throwing it all away. I long to join you, to stand by your side and never separate from you again. But I can't do that!"

"Why not?"

"Because I care about the well being of others. I can't let the sacrifices that have been made to stop you from destroying Heaven become useless. I have to stand against you, I have to bring you back to God, because too many people have already died for this cause."

Malachi was silent. Slowly with a few steps he reached up and gently touched Micah's cheek, then wrapped his arms around him in a tight embrace.

"Those are the exact same reasons why I cannot quit."

Closing his eyes, Micah placed his hands on Malachi's back. "I understand now. I understand why you continue pursuing this even though the entire world has turned against you, even though we are forced to fight against each other. You are just as much of a prisoner as I am," he whispered.

"I don't know what to do. I need more time to decide." Malachi pushed Micah away. "May I ask you to come back tomorrow?"

"I will. Evan . . . I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."